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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: February 26, 2016.

According to a recent report, 40% of all families with children are blended families. If you are not a part of a blended family yourself, chances are you know one: your neighbor, your best friend, or perhaps your sibling plays the important role of stepparent.

Blended families are now such a familiar part of our culture that we often forget the challenges parents and children face as the two families unite to become one.

Over the next five weeks we will discuss five tips blended families need to make the blending process a little more fluid. These five tips include:

  1. Take Your Time
  2. Communicate
  3. Adjust Your Expectations
  4. Present a United Front
  5. Find Common Ground

This week we will focus on the first tips:

Take Your Time

For those running the blended family race, you know the path from start to finish is a marathon, not a sprint. There is no one to whom parents and stepparents can pass the baton and very few water breaks are offered. So parents must learn to take their time and pace themselves.

Train Like the Pro’s

The year I trained for a marathon, I trained like a pro. I subscribed to running magazines, I read marathon websites and I even ate Gu (which is really just protein-packed baby food renamed “performance nutrition.” Disgusting.) I immersed myself in the world of marathons because for that one year I wanted to be a marathon runner.

If you want to blend, take your time to blend like a pro. Read books about blended families. Spend time with other blended families. Seek their advice. Glean from their wisdom. Know that you won’t become the perfect stepparent or the perfectly blended family in a day or a month or even a year. And that’s OK. Blending takes time.

Let the Kids Set the Pace

Marathon runners train at various levels: run/walk, beginner, intermediate, advanced. Your children, also, move at different levels. Some of the factors that affect their pace include:

  • age at the time of the divorce
  • age at the time of the remarriage
  • amount of contact with the other parent
  • emotional connectedness with the other parent
  • relationship with the siblings and stepsiblings

The important thing to remember is to let your children set the pace. This proves difficult when the children are at different stages of accepting the new family dynamic. However, spending one-on-one time with the children—going to the movies, getting ice cream, playing putt-putt—should help build bonds with each of them individually.

Get To Know Your Stepkids

Marathon runners get to know their course. They map it. They scope it out. If they know the terrain, they run a better race. It helps them to know the effortless parts and the pitfalls.

The same is true of your children. The more intimately you know them, the better race you will run with them. This is the fun part of parenting! This is your chance to discover their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams. Who is their favorite NBA player? Do they prefer ice cream or froyo?

Take time to invest in them. Ask questions. Spend time together. Even a five-minute conversation goes a long way.

Don’t Get Frustrated

Everyone who trains for a marathon experiences an off-day at some point. They feel sluggish. They don’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes they don’t even want to run anymore.

Maybe you are still running but you feel tired. You have blisters on your feet. Your legs hurt. No one is cheering for you. Your family has given up.

Don’t get frustrated. Remember, the blended family is a marathon, not a sprint.

You will have good days and you will have bad days. You will experience happy, joy-filled days. You will have days that bring you to your knees and make you cry out to your Savior wondering what He thought bringing your motley crew together.

Then just when you think you can’t run another leg in the race, you will have a day when you hear the kids laugh. Your daughter hugs your spouse. Your stepson gives you a high-five that lets you know all is right in the world. And you think, “This is how it has always been.”

But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.

They will walk—never tired, never faint.

Isaiah 40:31

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